The United States is not Japan. It never was and never will be, so let’s quit comparing our history to theirs—economists be damned. The United States is not China, India, Brazil, Russia, or the European Union either. Whether we want to believe it or not, the United States is the leader of the free world, the leader of economic enhancements in the world, and the leader of innovation throughout our rapidly shrinking and integrating planet.
So it’s time to quit whining, America. Instead, it’s time to begin acting like the country that we really are. Sure, we are having our problems at the moment and rightfully so, but that is no reason to go rogue, negative, and become a doomsayer. Our problems are fixable and it is time we go about fixing them, and here are 10 ways how.
One, reward those who deserve it and implement the 4.0% home mortgage refinancing solution by offering to refinance “without cash outs” every American homeowner’s primary home under $500,000 if the homeowner is current on their mortgage. This will stimulate the economy in the range of $100 billion annually without Government spending and without “cutting taxes”. As a result of the new global economy, inflation should be manageable in the long term and the 4.0% U.S. mortgage is defendable based upon financial theory.
Two, let compromise and reason pervade our Government policies without major concessions to the extreme left or the extreme right. Our federal budget problems are fixable and both political parties know how to do it. It only takes will and compromise. Set a goal to balance the federal budget within three years (not 10) and follow that plan without faltering to the first new excuse to change that course. Throw the burden on the federal agencies to cut spending by 5.0% from current levels within two years and another 5.0% in the third year, then use taxation as a last compromising course of action to balance any shortfall. Then just do it.
Three, stress the importance of education, innovation, and hard work in our youth. Rather than overburdening our youth with debt bills that are not of their making, let us invest in them instead. Our youth is the heart of our future. That has always been and always will be the case, which means that we older people may have to sacrifice a little now in order to keep America strong and vibrant in the future. It is time for baby-boomers (yes, I am one, too) to be selfless rather than selfish. Consider cuts to social security as part of our strategy to invest in our youth.
Four, focus on reducing health care costs. In 1960 health care costs represented less than 5.3% of our GDP compared to more than 15.9% today (Source: U.S. centres for Medicare & Medicaid Services; Office of the Actuary “National Health Statistics Group”, Bureau of labour and Statistics). This kind of rapid health care cost increase is more troubling than even Government spending and taxation. Eliminate health care fraud within the Government and quit making excuses for shoddy private sector insurance practices that does more to line the pockets of already wealthy stockholders and executives than it does to improve health care for our citizens.
Five, support new and reasoned immigration policies. The U.S. is truly a “melting pot” for the world and the U.S. is still a very attractive place to live. Immigration and brain draining has always benefited this wonderful country and there is no reason why that should change in the future. Worried about the oversupply of “condominium” housing in our most temperate locations? Then use that oversupply as an attractive lure and an incentive for some of the best minds outside of our country to come to the U.S. and fill those houses. Go West young man of the East.
Six, quit being the policeman for the world. Let us lead by example, rather than by force. Despite the constant news bombardment regarding terrorism, the world is actually a more peaceful world today than any prior period in the history of the human race. All we have to fear is fear itself, and 10 years from now the world will be even a more peaceful world than it is today. If the truth is to be told, the next world war is not going to be fought on the battlefield, but in the boardrooms of the world’s largest corporations—and it’s there that we need to ensure that we play an influencing roll, supporting moral and ethical principals in support of individual rights and freedoms.
Seven, reward innovation on Main Street more than finance on Wall Street. Greed is not what made this country strong. Hard work, sweat, innovation, and a commitment to the whole are what made this country what it is. Wall Street, instead of using Gordon Gecko as your romantic ideal, begin thinking in terms of Warren Buffet, Thomas Watson, Henry Ford, and Steven Jobs instead. Provide a manufacturing base of jobs to support employment goals. Find ways to have “Made in America” mean something.
Eight, change the work attitude of acceptance to one of excellence. A Standish Group study conducted earlier this decade found that only 9% of software projects are completed on time and budget—the average project being deployed with 42% of the proposed features and a cost overrun of 89%. That is unacceptable. Instead, we should set reasonable time standards, expect excellence, and turn our operating mode from one with a 9% attitude into one with a 99% attitude, using people who are committed and who have a stake in the success of the project.
Nine, eliminate the entire concept of Government Sponsored Enterprises. There is no room for such an entity in the United States of America. The biggest mistake that was made in the housing industry in the last 40 years was to construct the Government Sponsored Enterprises called Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This is not to say, however, that the government should not involve itself in housing policy (every government in the world does). Housing (or shelter) is one of the more important attributes or measures that reflect a nation’s wealth and values.
And finally 10, enjoy what freedom offers. Sometimes we Americans take this treasured gift that our forefathers gave us so much for granted that we actually fail to reap its advantages. If other nations of the world do not want freedom, do not try to force it upon them. Let them see through example, rather than force, the benefits of freedom’s “innovational” offerings.
Now considering the above rationale, I ask the reader to consider the question. Is the United States really Japan? I do not think so.
Jim Boswell (MBA, MPA, BA) directed the analytical risk monitoring activities of Ginnie Mae’s $500 billion portfolio of mortgage-backed securities for twelve years (1988-2000), including the period of the S&L crisis. His recent book, Crush Depth Alert, published by Fourth Lloyd Productions, explains in detail with supporting exhibits, graphs, and tables the factors that led up to the financial crisis while offering solutions on how to move forward.
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